Modest-er Proposal for Preventing Gun-Owning Men of the United States From Being a Burden to their Families and Country

This is a guest post by Evey.   

“It is a melancholy object to those who walk through th[ese] great town[s] or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with” gun-toting men clad in denim and stars and bars, sometimes with one, two, three or more types of guns proudly displayed on their bodies. These men, instead of being able to express themselves in a rational and non-aggressive manner, have been left NO choice but to stand threateningly in a Walmart produce section to show those oranges, bananas, and everyone else around, that they are not fucking around. They MUST purchase a burrito at Qdoba armed with semi-automatic weapons, to show everyone how brave they are. Afterwards continuing to get lost in a universe pretending to be soldier in a war that has long-since been lost.

Indeed, “I think it is agreed by all parties that th[e] prodigious” amount of gun violence facing the country is “a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these” gun-toting members of society into “useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have [their] statue set up for a preserver of the nation.”

As for me I have been thinking of this very practical solution to our little problem for some time. It was 1999 when I first remember a national encounter with men with guns. Now these particular overly-emotional armed men were young members of the species, but even with the relative inexperience of youth they managed to successfully shoot up a high school and murder 13 of their classmates and teachers. Again I had an opportunity to think of my modest-er proposal later in 1999 when Mark Barton killed 12 people, and then in 1999 again when Larry Ashbrook murder 7 teens at a Christian rock concert. In 2000 I would be blessed to have more opportunity to search for a solution with Micahel McDermott killed 7 people. Another opportunity in 2003 with Doug Williams shot and killed 14 of his fellow work mates. Still another chance in 2005 when Terry Razmann killed 9, and Kyle Huff killed 7. Or 2006 when Charles Roberts murdered Amish children. Or 2007 at Virginia Tech where Seung-Hui Choi murdered 32, and later that same year when Robert Hawkins murdered 9. In 2008 we had yet another chance to consider change when Steven Kazmierczak willed 6 at Norther Illinois University. We didn’t do anything then, but had more chances to consider a solution in 2009 at the hands of Robert Stewart, Jiverly Wong, and Nidal Hasan in 3 separate incidents that left 34 dead. Omar Thorton gave us pause again in 2010 after murdering 9. Jared Loughner opened fire at a congressional rally killing 6, and injuring a sitting Congresswoman [As an aside, dear reader, if you thought having one of their own shot in the head would rally Congress, sadly, you’d be wrong.] 2012 was a banner year for murderous gun-toting men with dead bodies laying in the wake of TJ Lan, One L Goh, Ian Stawicki, James Holmes, Wade Page, Andrew Engelinger, and on December 14 I was forced once again to ponder a solution when Adam Lanza murdered 20 six and seven-year-old children, who I’m sure tried to get small before he executed them, Senator Thune.

I could keep going, but I worry I may lose you before we get to the solution, so I’ll skip to the tragedies in Orlando and Las Vegas. Orlando had the honor of being the deadliest mass shooting in modern history for approximately 16 months before an angry man with a gun murdered 59 and injured 500 at a country music festival. I have also considered the pervasive gang violence, as in Chicago, and many other places, and the role guns play there, since that is the party line about not needing gun control. Overwhelmingly this violence comes from men as well. They’ve grown up with the notion that aggression and anger are positive masculine traits. That without those testosterone-fueled rages, they are less. We’ve let you slide with violence—physical, emotional, sexual, and we’ve enabled you for too long. We’ve looked the other way as you’ve abused your girlfriends and wives (a trait that links mass shooters). We’ve convinced ourselves that it is not our business, or we have ourselves benefited from the systems that protects men. Men lack meaningful emotional relationships with other men because people may question your sexuality, and complain of the ‘friendzone’ with women. Men are isolated and alone, and humans are not meant to thrive in those conditions and too many of you are dying. Too many of you are using guns and violence as a first line of defense, almost like an aggressive contraception method to prevent anyone from questioning your masculinity. As such, we must now think of the greater good, as this violent culture has clearly become a burden to this great union of states.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that we allow every single adult who wants a gun to purchase as many guns, and as many kinds of guns, as they want—immediately after we transform the entire country into women.

Let me explain. The NRA is right. The epidemic of violence polluting our country is not guns, but they are wrong when they say the problem IS mental illness—not that anyone wants to talk about comprehensive healthcare as a way to help people with mental illnesses, but it’s SUCH a great talking point when you’re trying to dodge a proverbial bullet—see what I did there? But I digress. People with mental illnesses are far more likely to be victims of violent crimes than perpetrators of them. So, if it’s not guns, and it’s not mental illness, what is it? I’m glad you asked. The problem is men. Don’t get overly emotional on me now, I do hate it when you shout and carry on in a way that suggests your hormones have overcome your rationality. Hear me out. Women are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness, and yet men account for 98% of all mass shootings. 98 percent. Add to that the statistics on men being the majority of perpetrators of gun homicides, victims of suicide by guns, and assaults with guns, and I think the situation becomes clear. Not guns, not mental illness. Men.

Don’t worry after extensive environmental and biological reprogramming, you will be armed with your favorite bump-stock converted semi-automatic weapon. You will be armed in any public library or park. You will be armed in schools, and churches, and bars because alcohol and booze—what could go wrong. But you will not be armed with male-driven, anger, violence, difficulty connecting, a need for dominance and control, and of course a y chromosome and the physical traits that may come with it (I mean a penis). You will not use your gun to threaten a loved one. You will not use your gun as a means to feel safer while actually putting yourself and others at greater risk. You will not use your gun in the commission of robberies, or rapes. You will leave behind your unfortunate upbringing from this unfortunate place where through popular culture, and conditioning, you have learned that violence and masculinity are interconnected and virtuous. You will unlearn the toxic idea tells boys who are not hyper-aggressive that they are not men. You will overcome your biology by becoming something else entirely.

Perhaps this seems a radical solution, but alas, men with guns have become too dangerous to ignore. And as the shootings mass, and otherwise continue to occur, and as the proposals and actions of a desperate people fall on the ears of a Congress which have long since been left deaf to the sound of Bradbury’s thunder, it becomes necessary to plan and enact our own modest-er proposal.

31 comments on “Modest-er Proposal for Preventing Gun-Owning Men of the United States From Being a Burden to their Families and Country

  1. cassandram


    Sending in your name for the Nobel Peace Prize next year, because this is the solution we’ve been waiting for.

  2. Excellent post! Love your style, Evey!

    Toxic masculinity needs to be addressed, but we never get a chance because men will derail the conversation by demanding we acknowledge them as the exception. As I’ve said again and again, that is a deliberate tactic.

    There’s so much in this post! I have never understood the need to open carry in the produce section or at Qdoba. There is simply no rational reason for this behavior. It’s about making some sort of self statement. It’s also 100% about intimidation. And that intimidation applies to everyone, not just the “bad” guy (’cause it is a guy 98% of the time) with a gun.

    And don’t even get me started on the term “friendzone”.

  3. If it’s supposed to be Swiftian, it’s not subtle enough.

    For a more thoughtful take on this, try Heather Havrilesky:

    • Sure, some are sociopathic baby men, but that avoids the systemic problem that promotes, validates and excuses the behavior. And if we go with the sociopathic baby men reason, then – holy sh*t! – we have a epidemic of sociopathic baby men!

      • we dont?

        • I don’t think she read the article, because it addresses her objections.

          • I read the article. I find the examples limiting, because this problem isn’t limited to men like Weinstein, Cosby, Trump, Spencer, etc.. This problem has a far greater reach. And while many men would never grab a woman by her genitals (an example) there are those among them that excuse the behavior. Boys will be boys, locker room talk, biology, etc..

            • The point, I think, is that the guys with power act out because they can. As always, though, we’re talking about two different things. Most men manage to confine these fantasies to their imaginations. The powerful ones don’t.

              If you want to prevent the acting out, there are ways to do that short of killing all the men. If you want to prevent the desire of males of a primate species to accumulate power and status, then yes, you’ll have to kill them all. In doing so, you should probably also test the women for testosterone levels — everyone has some, even the women — to eliminate those with the highest levels.

              See, I have no illusions about the “eliminate all the…” line of thinking. It never stops with the first goal. There’s always something else that needs eliminating.

              • And yes, I’m talking about biology. I know the feminist critique takes as a given that biology plays a lesser role than culture in determining gender identity, but behavioral science is not in line with that determination.


                Research, of course, is ongoing. That’s why we now think that Lamarck wasn’t entirely wrong — environment does change gene expression to a degree previously unacknowledged.

                It’s not that it’s “not all men.” It’s that “all men” is a crude measure — so crude I would have expected a man to come up with it.

                • Then be a part of the perception change.
                  I dont know about all men, but it is certainly most. To some degree or another, most men, at some point or another (myself included, and i have put a lot of work into changing it) have fallen into the “Bros before Hoes” mantra as a way of excusing inexcusable behavior from other men. Whether it is “locker room talk” or even being there for a friend who went through a breakup and has…. choice words… about women, we have all been in a position to say “wrong”. Every time any of us DOESNT, we are guilty of continuing the status quo. It applies to bad cops, it applies to gun owners, it applies to white people, it applies to men.
                  We (identifying males) need to start being the fiercest critics of guys like Trump et all. These dicks get cover because they run to their hunting clubs, or wherever they gather, and get affirmation from their bros. They will never change no matter how women address the problems because they fundamentally see women as less than them. Or if not “less”, then they see women as different enough to discount them.
                  So fine, if these neanderthals wont listen to women, it’s time for other males to make them feel like shit for being shitty people, not carve out defenses and loop holes for them.

                  • This is the same argument used to demand that mainstream Muslims apologize for their religion.

                    Yes, I realize that too many men — where’s that hashtag? — behave this way or excuse those who do. TELLING them to stop does nothing. People don’t change their behavior until they are incentivized, whether by carrot or stick, to change.

                    And I’m starting to realize that not even that works all the time. That idiot Rep. Steve Scalise got f*ing SHOT and still supports unlimited gun access. You can’t fix stupid.

                    I understand the urge to say “let’s kill them all,” but I also remember what happened when DelDem hyperbolically said Republicans should be shot. The little snowflakes never let him forget it. That demonstrated how a public call for extremism often is a recipe for having your opinion dismissed.

                    • It looks like there are some ways to change this behavior thru peer pressure.

                      Men need to take the lead on this.

                    • The old men are already lost. They are what they are and there is no changing them, only widdling away their influence and place in society. Or put them on an ice float off the coast of Ecuador for all I care.
                      But if you want to talk about incentives, we cant keep doing things like letting them produce movies, star in movies, play sports, get elected, run banks, run new organizations etc. Do you think Harvey Weinstein will EVER get anything close to justice? Holy fire has to be rained down on these fucks every time they step out of line. Right now, getting caught is what is scary. Getting caught should, and one day soon, WILL be the norm.
                      Anecdotally, the good news is, based on my interactions with men younger than me, “new men”, we’ll call them… they are MUCH more feminist and socially aware than men older than me. They dont need carrots (affirmation, sex) or sticks (actual sticks). They understand boorish behavior is wrong. Sure, you have your Milos and your pewdipies, but they are “rebels”…. that says to me that decency is the mainstream among the 35 and younger crowd, and those fellas aren’t likely to find real happiness or even long term success in their current state.
                      Here’s the thing though. Men unwilling to pick fights with their knuckle-dragger friends will ultimately be treated the same by history as the “bad ones” themselves.

  4. Yeah, but you’ll notice how different the numbers are — 3.5 billion vs. the number who actually do the damage.

    If this is supposed to uphold the notion that liberal women are a bunch of man-haters, mission accomplished.

    Furthermore, it the problem is testosterone, which it is, shouldn’t you at least test for testosterone levels before applying your solution, which, it should be noted, is the same solution applied by the crazed shooters — “kill ’em all.”

    • “3.5 billion vs. the number who actually do the damage.”

      How are you counting damage? Seems a bit limited to me.

      “If this is supposed to uphold the notion that liberal women are a bunch of man-haters, mission accomplished.”

      #notall men – check
      misandry – check

      This is why we will never have this conversation. You can bet that if most gun violence were being committed by Asian women we would be drowning in discussions over culture and gender.

  5. You don’t get it. I agree with the diagnosis. The prescription, however, is as bad as the disease. And not very clever, either.

    I don’t get the “conversation” you want to have. You want agreement, not a conversation.

  6. Do you know my main point? It’s that we are failing boys. We are failing men. MEN DESERVE BETTER. Men are isolated and alone, and trapped in rage spirals. Mass shooting and guns are symptoms. Society continues to perpetuate the notion that you can’t have a deep and meaningful friendship with another male but that you also can’t have a deep and meaningful non-sex based relationship with a woman. What the hell are you supposed to do? If I’m having a bad day, I can call or text (because let’s be civilized) my best girlfriend and just let it all out. Men are punished for seeking a behavior that is so incredibly human. We all want a connection, and women are allowed to have that without anyone questioning their sexuality. If I need a hug and my friend embraces me, she’s never feels the need to scream “no-homo” afterwards. I want that for men. I want you to feel safe and valued and let some of the weight of the world fall off your shoulders. It’s killing you, and sometimes anyone near you.

    • I agree Evey, but it isnt “someone else’s” job to fix that.
      Men wrote the rules of society, we still control society. It’s still a problem of our making, and given the toxic ones are still in the highest places of power, it will only change when they are… gone. Many people still need to be convinced it is a problem.

      • You keep making an important point, Ben. This isn’t just about wealthy and powerful men. This behavior happens across the board. It hurts men and women. It happens at work, school, at home and in blog comments.

      • “Men unwilling to pick fights with their knuckle-dragger friends will ultimately be treated the same by history as the “bad ones” themselves.”

        If what you mean is “forgotten,” which is how 99.9999% of humanity is treated by history, then you’re right. OTOH, I don’t have any knuckle-dragger friends to call out. I’m busy enough fighting with my friends who are football fans in an effort to get them to stop subsidizing a disability-inflicting sport. If I can’t get them to give up football, I don’t think I’ll have much luck getting them to change other behaviors.

        I agree with Ben that the younger generation offers more hope. And forcing these conversations will, years down the road, bring about the social change you seek. But don’t overlook how many years it was after Stonewall before same-sex marriage was legalized. Much of that 40-year time lag was how long it took for the older generations to die off.

    • @Evey: Safe and valued? This is America we’re talking about, right? Society sends the message pretty much constantly that we are all neither safe nor valued — unless we empower ourselves with money, beauty or guns.

      I get what you’re saying. But I think it’s more about the union between capitalism and power, probably because I see everything through the lens of class. I notice that powerful women often display the same dominance-ritual traits as men (I never read “The Devil Wears Prada” but I got the drift). If you read much about primate research, you’ll find that females have a parallel power structure that’s quieter but no less effective than the chest-thumping male version.

      I think this country is due for another rejection of mass consumption, as 40 years of it has brought nothing but unhappiness to the vast multitude. And I think the current younger generation just coming of age will lead it.

  7. I keep coming back to the rage. What is driving this? And it exists across every socioeconomic level. I see it all the time. It’s quite shocking to witness. So quick to fight.

    • cassandram

      How America has silently accepted the rage of white men

      I’ve been thinking about this. And the rage is increasingly the default position.

    • mix a constant marketing campaign of “you’re not good enough”, with white male entitlement, and the anger hormone. Sexism, racism, etc… however it presents itself after that is probably environmental, but the outcome is always the same. He-man smash.

      • How it presents itself seems to differ (sometimes) with how it ends up directed. These white, male mass shooters tend to shoot into crowds of white people. Not always, but often enough. Enough that it makes you wonder why white America isn’t freaking out.

        And every time this happens we hear some version of: “We can’t believe this happened here!” Seems to me it happens there an awful lot.

        • cassandram

          And there’s also the connection to domestic violence for these shooters. As is the massive effort to look for mental health issues for white male shooters. One of the go to reasons white people have for violence among POC is that their “dysfunctional communities” are to blame. Yet the work we see time after time is white people trying to excuse their own violence.

        • Yet those same people will throw our civil rights in a dumpster over far-less-frequent terror attacks by Muslims. Second Amendment, yeah! Fourth Amendment, go suck it!

      • Rage is the one society-sanctioned emotion men are permitted to have. Loneliness, insecurity, frustration? As Evey notes, not permitted to men. So all those stimuli come out as rage.

  8. Well, I was wrong. We had a conversation after all.

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